[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]
When we last left off with the Resident Evil film series, we had a film that tried to pander to its audience by including as many hackneyed game references (names, characters, etc.) as possible, even if that meant altering the character or rendering them mostly useless. This film... gives you the finger instead. Whereas the previous film at least made attempts to connect itself to the series, this one all but removes itself completely. Even the character of Jill, who was introduced in the previous film, was removed solely for one reason, to which the filmmakers readily share: "We thought, rather than bring Jill back, put [Alice] with another game heroine."
The character being referenced here is Claire Redfield, who was not in the original script for this film. Claire was originally introduced to the game series in the second game, where she was one of two main playable characters along side fan favorite Leon S. Kennedy (who is not in this movie). Her entire story basically revolves around trying to find her missing brother, Chris, a member of the S.T.A.R.S. team. Of course, is Chris even remotely mentioned in the film? Of course not! But let's not jump ahead. Let's just get into the review.
(Oh yeah, and the film barely shows Albert Wesker, one of the primary villains of the games... but I'll get more into him with the next RE film.)
What's odd about this movie is that it has no plot. It really doesn't. There's no point to it. There's nothing really to be gained. Umbrella is doing experiments with the T-Virus to try and control the zombies, while Dr. Isaacs is mutating it to make it stronger. And the caravan is just basically trying to survive. After Alice joins up about halfway through, they decide to head in the direction of Alaska... but that's about it. They don't get there (at least not in this movie). And nothing of vast importance happens in between except the majority of the cast dies and the two "stories" converge at the end. The film's introduction to the real Alice is also a pointless and terrible scene where she's taken by a band of marauders and they attack her with zombie dogs. It has nothing to do with anything, and it's just terrible on the whole. It could have been removed with no consequence whatsoever. Strangely, though, I'll give credit where credit is due, and the film moves at a great pace, especially for a film with no plot. I was kind of multitasking while watching, and at one point I looked up and realized there was only about 10 minutes left.
The acting in this film is probably the worst in the entire franchise, as well. Particularly from the no-name characters, like the marauders at the beginning or some scientists who are just going to die soon anyway. And I don't mean like regular bad... but bad bad. It doesn't help that we're give a really poor script, too, so the lines they have to deliver are terrible to begin with. Hell, even the CGI birds were bad.
Now, I called this the odd duck of the franchise earlier. Let me explain why. With a few exceptions, this film could be removed from canon and nothing would change. The biggest differences would be the addition of Claire and K-Mart to the story, and (spoilers) the loss of Carlos and L.J. Wesker is useless in this film and is pretty much just reintroduced with a different actor in the next film anyway. This film loses both Jill Valentine and Angela Ashford with no explanation. As stated earlier, Jill was actually supposed to return, but the actress' schedule conflicted with her current film at the time--Eragon. Not exactly sure which would have been the better choice. Anyway, on top of their random, unexplained disappearances, the oceans have dried up and world has become a giant desert wasteland. Except that it hasn't starting in the next film, where it acts like that never happened. Also, this film ends with a clone army of super-Alice's... which the next film basically RetCon's in the first 10 minutes, not only removing that from the equation, but also Alice's telekinetic powers being explored in this film. In other words, with a couple character exceptions, this particular film is so far removed from both the game series and the film series that it makes you wonder why it even exists (outside of the whole money thing).
So there you are. It has terrible acting, no plot, forgettable characters, zero purpose in the franchise, but... a nice pacing. I will also give it this: the climax of the film is nice. They tie in a frequent baddie from the games--the Tyrant--and give us a pretty cool action sequence there (except for the crappy CGI part). And the setting of this scene, as well as the opening of the film, are a nice callback to the first film. Really, you only need to bother with this one if you're wanting to complete the series. This isn't a painful movie by any means... it's just... there.
Feed Me, Seymour!
(P.S. Oh yeah, and they gave Milla Jovovich terrible hair in this movie.)